Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Saturday 10 April 2021

Friday 9 April 2021 - Delamere Forest

We visited Delamere Forest a couple of times last August - reports are here and here. Today, the maximum allowed group of six, Sue and me, Graeme, Jenny, Paul and Jeanette, (and Rufus - very well behaved today), started again from Barnsbridge Gates, this time checking out route 23 in Jen Darling's 'Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral' book. Whilst last week's walk in the Wirral had changed very little since the 2007 edition of the book, folk have been busy in Delamere Forest, so a number of 'edits' are desirable.

After following the Sandstone Trail to just beyond a bridge over the Chester to Manchester railway line, we turned off towards the Visitor Centre at Linmere Lodge. It's a huge place, with a giant car park, replacing the old centre that now looks sadly dilapidated.

After admiring the new construction and taking advantage of the facilities, we walked on up the road to re-cross the railway, which Jen notes was the last line to be brought under British Rail control in 1947 - six months after the other railways. Due to an 'oversight'.

Go Ape is in the same place as it always has been, but the ropeways look to have been replaced since Sue and I went on the course a few years ago.

A little further on, the car park at Whitefield has been drastically enlarged. We just walked through, following 'Delamere Way' markers.

It was a mainly overcast day, thankfully dry, but there were still nice reflections in several small ponds that we passed.

A large picnic bench afforded us the luxury of a socially distanced elevenses break.

Continuing along the Delamere Way, we missed a turn at New Pool Cottage. Possibly because it has been replaced by 'The Firs'. But the 'web' indicates that 'The Firs' was constructed in 2013, and New Pool Cottage was sold for £2,837,000 in 2017. It's unclear to me, but the left turn to Harthill Bank is certainly by 'The Firs'. (More research needed.)

Soon after that, I missed another left turn, and on re-joining Jen's route, we went back to discover where I'd gone wrong. No matter, either of the paths to Post Office Lane are fine.

Continuing on towards Hatchmere, a medium sized mere surrounded by reeds, we arrived at the B5152 road very close to the Carriers Inn. Apparently it has a 300 year history, and judging by the vehicle parked outside, it hopes soon to be able to re-open when the next relaxation of Lockdown takes place.

Around the end of the mere, we soon reached a well constructed boardwalk in an area described as 'boggy' by Jen. Here (below) Jeanette points towards some log obstructions in the stream next to the boardwalk, obviously trying to control the flow of the stream.

Then we reached a substantial new fence and thought "Beavers?"

Jenny said she had heard something about this, and later in the day she sent me a cutting that announced that the cost of the beaver enclosure project, some £60,000, had soon been met from fundraising started in August 2020, with the work being completed in time for the release of a pair of beavers on 2 November 2020. They seem to be getting along well, in terrain similar to that shown below - a picture taken on our short walk back from the beaver enclosure to Barnsbridge Gates.

Jenny pointed me to a short video about the beavers - click here to view it.

Our 11 km route, with very little ascent, is shown below. On return to the car park we learnt of the Duke of Edinburgh's death from old age.

Three more Friday walks are currently planned, but I'm afraid they are all now fully booked to the limit of six people.

Friday 9 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 13 - Langen to wild camp near Ravensburger Hutte

[Note: the photos from this day (and others) are of inferior quality. The original slides were very dark, so I've tried to brighten the images a little. Perhaps I had the camera on the wrong settings for much of this entire trip!]

Thursday 24 July 1980 - diarist: Martin - Near Langen to near Ravensburger Hutte 

Nick woke at 5:30 and by 8 o'clock, having read the street map of Zurich, he had prepared breakfast in bed for the rest of us in the manner to which we had become accustomed. 

The flat site and fine, cool weather had enabled everyone to get a good kip. By 9 am we were striding down the path to the shops in Langen (bread required). But there were no shops so we continued down a path south of the river to Klosterle, where the necessaries (and unnecessaries - a 2 litre bottle of wine) were purchased after Dave was gullible enough to volunteer to carry the wine.

Visible from this pleasing path were the usual cornucopia of alpine flowers including some rather large specimens of what appeared to be early purple orchids, a strange construction on which large leaves appeared to be drying (attributed by Nick to the clever local mice) railways and roads disappearing into the mountainside, and a keep fit trail which we attempted to complete. Performing some of the exercises was hampered by our rucksacks; RMP was clicking furiously in an attempt to record items for the rogues gallery. Dave's legs prevented him from participating in most of the exercises, but he made up for this by transporting the newly purchased wine up the 800 metre climb to Spuller-See.

Thanks to Colin for this photo!

Nick and I went on ahead, preferring to consume both today's lunches simultaneously at the top of the climb. The bread and cheese and chocolate was most welcome, and a brew was commenced to greet the three dawdlers, who had preferred to lunch before the climb.

Nick and Martin enjoyed this view from their lunch stop

The day was fine again, with a light breeze, but unlike the previous two days an occasional cloud provided welcome respite from the torrential sun which has recently devastated my lips, nose, forehead, etc. By the time the second brew was ready the dawdlers had arrived and a further spell was enjoyed at this pleasant spot.

Spuller-See from near the Ravensburger Hutte

When 4 o'clock arrived we realised a large period of time had been spent here, so, despite whimsical suggestions about setting up camp, we trudged up to the Ravensburger Hutte (built 1912, 1980 m) for a welcome schiewasser (ribena). There were, due to the close vicinity of a road, a number of typical American tourists. Difficult to elect a star, but the gentleman with the unlit cigarette whose white knickers extended beyond his knee-length khaki shorts took the biscuit for me. 

The weather was hazier than of late, but there was a good view south west to Spuller-See and beyond, and a large white cross on top of the Roggal-Sp was prominent on that mountain, the grey rock of which stood out starkly against the deep blue sky. (Shame about the poor quality of the picture below.)

Approaching Ravensburger Hutte (1947 metres)

There are also two parties of Dutch people here, one previously encountered at Muttekopfhutte, the other at Ulmerhutte. After relating to these Dutch people the story (abbreviated) of our trip so far, we set off in search of a campsite. Today's exploratory activities were the antithesis of the previous day's exploits, and within five minutes Dave was sitting on a clump of grass in the middle of an idyllic site. 

The tents soon assumed their usual 'L' configuration - to enable Nick to serve breakfast in bed efficiently.

In the excitement of finding such a good site, my zip burst irreparably open, and the disintegration of my feet was found to have commenced not due to sunburn but due to blisters caused by excessive speed up today's hill. I dubbined my boots whilst the rest (apart from Dave) hastened to wash in the ice cold water. Ruaridh took longest and should by now be very clean. I hope it's not too dirty on tomorrow's route, for his sake. Dave was, as usual, too hungry to do anything except contemplate the saliva which dribbled from his parched lips.

Roggalspitze, 2673 metres, from our campsite

Enough of this drivel, today's entry ends with tonight's meal of sweet and sour chicken cooking merrily, having been diligently carried by Colin for nearly two weeks. Now, over to Colin, for whom the event of today seems to have in the drying of his Karrimat.

Today's route - 13 km with 1000 metres ascent

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Thursday 8 April 2021

Thursday 8 April 2021 - A Bike Ride in Tatton Park

On another cold April day (what a shame that we aren't allowed visitors in the house), Sue and I pedalled along to the Knutsford entrance to Tatton Park. We waited in the Baltic wind for Kate, Jacob and Jessica to turn up.

Setting off took a while, as Jacob was upset that the gears on his new bike weren't working as they should do. Kate eventually fixed the problem whilst we supped from our flasks etc having reached the courtyard.

We had passed an incubating swan, just to the left of the next picture.

The courtyard was relatively sheltered, though since I was last there they've taken away the tent like protection and have removed a lot of picnic tables, leaving the remaining ones well spread out, unlike the children's playground, which was heaving with small bodies.

Cycling back to Knutsford against the wind was quite a challenge for Jessica, who managed to maintain her smile for most of the way.

It was great to see everyone, and Sue and I certainly got plenty of exercise, returning by a different, more scenic, route, to make it a 28 mile round trip.

Wednesday 7 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 12 - Ulmer Hutte to Langen (Klosterle)

Wednesday 23 July 1980 - diarist: Ruaridh - Ulmer Hutte to near Langen 

Some Dutch people we had met the previous evening had told us that the weather forecast was for at least three more brilliant sunny days, and certainly this morning dawned bright and sunny. The 40 centimetres of snow which had fallen in the last spell of bad weather would soon be gone. 

The warden came to chat to us as we ate breakfast. He was surprised that no one else was up yet on such a beautiful day, and told us the temperature had fallen to minus 2°C last night. He asked whether we still intended to try to go to the Stuttgarter Hutte, but we told him that over the next few days we proposed to take the cable car up the Valluga from the Galtzig station (2093 m), go down through St Christoph, to the Kaltenberg Hutte (above Stuben) and up to the Spullersee. He seemed much relieved at this and wished us 'Viel Spass'. 

We trotted down to Galtzig following the wide tracks of a snow vehicle (Martin took a shortcut) and after going all round the building and upstairs and downstairs, we found the departure point. It was not long before the next car left, but when we reached the front of the queue there was not room for the five of us. The twenty minutes until the next car started loading passed quickly. We noticed that here in Austria, as in France, orderly queueing seems to be unheard of. The next shock was the price -  115 Schillings each (about £4), and paying seemed to cause some problems as everyone else had come all the way from the valley at St Anton and simply needed their tickets clipped. (However much must it cost all the way from St Anton?!)

The view west from Valluga summit (2809 metres)

Another view from Valluga summit

The view from the Valluga summit was well worth waiting for. We could clearly see the distant peaks such as Zuckerhuttl (72 km away) and the Wildspitze - a white twin peaked ripple on the skyline. The spires of the Hohe Riffler across the Inn valley, with their two glaciers, beckoned - and our own tracks made over the Mattunjoch yesterday stood out by themselves in the otherwise pure white virgin snow. 

One thing which marred the view was an enormous transmission mast between the observation platform and the view of the rest of the Lechtaler Alps. However, a little acrobatics in front of the astonished faces of tourists secured a vantage point free of obstacles.

The cable route...

A lake on the path beyond St Christoph 
(today's photos are the unadjusted Kodachrome originals, complete with incredible skyscapes)

We had our first lunch just below the Galtzig restaurant, and slid and splashed our way through peat and mud down the path to St Christoph. Not surprisingly it was all hotels and restaurants, many speaking English. A mountain guide about to set off with a group of tourists asked where we had come from and where we were going, and immediately on hearing my accent he directed us in English to the start of our path. It was the first time I had been asked if I was other than Dutch! 

We bought up most of the cafe's stock of chocolate, and nearly joined a coach tour when we heard a voice inviting "All aboard what's going aboard". 

A steep but short climb in the hot sun caused sleeves to be rolled up, socks rolled down, and in my case shorts to be put on. (Nick had already had his on all day as usual.) Our second lunch stop was on a railway line (?!).

View towards the Flexen road to Zurs

Nick was in fine form and strode out ahead to the Kaltenberg Hutte. We passed a number of notable items of engineering, an unusual concrete construction which turned out to be a road tunnel ventilation shaft (quite artistic considering how uninteresting it could have been made); the Flexenstrasse - a series of tunnels and avalanche shelters across the valley from us; and a hairpin road clinging onto a steep grassy slope leading up to a small number of houses below the Gruben Spitze.

Kaltenberg Hutte (2089 metres)

After a stop for tea at the Kaltenberg Hutte, we set about looking for a campsite in the valley leading down to Langen. This proved distinctively difficult to achieve as we were thwarted by uneven, rocky, or marshy ground, or the threat of being kept awake all night by the dinging of cowbells. We gave up all hope of finding a site as the sun sank behind the mountains, and headed for the official site in Klosterle. 

However, about halfway down to Langen the ideal site suddenly presented itself - a flat grassy and not too stony area near water. There was no question of discussing the merits of the site. We just threw down our packs and set about putting up tents and cooking a meal, before lying down to sleep amongst the pine trees to the sound of a babbling brook.

Camping near Langen (1228 metres)

Today's route - 15 km with 450 metres ascent

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Lechtal Alps Backpack - Day 11 - Leutkircher Hutte to Ulmer Hutte

Tuesday 22 July 1980 - diarist: Nick. Leutkircher Hut to Ulmer Hutte 

I awoke on my matratz at about 6:45 and got up to wet trousers. The others eventually also arose. We went outside to an absolutely cloudless dark blue sky, and yesterday's snow had frozen to a crisp surface. We went back in to our breakfast - muesli, chocolate biscuits and Primula. I ventured to ask (in German) for two litres of hot water for our brew.

When Colin paid, quite cheap due to lack of beer, the warden asked where were we intending to go? "Ulmer Hutte" Colin replied, "on the route 601". She had assumed we were going via St Jacob in the valley. As we insisted, she said we should take the lower option going towards Kapall-Kopf, the top of the ski lift. However it would still need much care due to the amount of new snow around.

Hoh Riffler from the Leutkircher Hutte

As we set off, it soon became clear that this new snow would make the going very difficult not least because what red splodges had previously been visible were now covered by this new snow. The snow had drifted, and it wasn't long before Martin (the Mad Midget) almost disappeared from view. There was some debate as to the route - Martin was now in competition with Ruaridh as he was equipped with his newly purchased Kompass map. 

After much bumbling about, a few splodges were found which led us to a wrought iron crucifix covered in icicles which had been sculpted into beautiful shapes by the wind.

Starting the hard slog to Ulmer

Ruaridh, fully protected

A lot more bumbling; Martin proved not to be immune to the hyper-suicidal tendencies which seem to grab anyone equipped with an Alpine map. A lot of slithering about on snow-covered grass, rocks and trees (!) proved fruitless until eagle-eyed MacDonald spotted a path marker. The Mad Midget was reinforcing his nickname by doing a spiderman act across gully and cornices while the rest regained the path and headed along it, splodge spotting, until we reached another path by Kapall-Kopf.

Lunchtime near Kapall-K, looking east

Here we had our first lunch, the day's chocolate issue having already been eaten or melted by the hot sun. Speck (smoked bacon), caraway bread and dates were eagerly consumed (and chewed and chewed and chewed). From here, Martin estimated two hours up to the Mattunjoch. In fact, it eventually proved to take about 2 hours 20 minutes.

The lunchtime view SW, towards Kaltenberg

Throughout this long slog through snow which was invariably deep, but varied between over boot and up to waist, the sun beat down relentlessly. My Lawrence of Arabia outfit came into evidence again, and was soon copied by Martin except that he hung his tea towel over his face! Ruaridh had a blue J-cloth yashmak over the lower part of his visage, and Colin used a revolting grey/white handkerchief. Dave was content with his silly yellow sun hat. 

Martin had trouble seeing through his Batman / Sherpa Banfield sunglasses as they had become scratched through resting in his tit pocket. Consequently, as we now examine the damage, he has one side of his neck more burnt than the other due to putting his head on one side. I note for myself that I have a lighter coloured mark on my right wrist where my ice axe strap was, and that I'm also burnt through the gap at my shirt cuff!

Onwards towards Valfagehrjoch (2543 m), with the Valluga summit in view

There was a cross at the Valfagehrjoch, and we could see cable cars heading up towards Valluga. There was a horrible motor noise coming from behind Schindler Spitze. We never found out what it was but assumed it to be coming from something to do with the cable car. We had our second lunch here - more speck and brot. The speck was definitely a good buy, even though I say it myself, (bought in my capacity as catering supremo).

View from the 2543 metre col, with a Valluga cablecar

We reached the Tirol - Vorarlberg border and saw down to the Ulmer Hutte and an Austrian Post Office Relay Station. The descent looked fairly easy and Dave fancied a run as usual. However, though a lone skier and a tracked vehicle had preceded us, the going could be described as 'very soft', thus all fast methods of booted descent were out. Another long slog. 

Ruaridh got us in to the Ulmer Hutte, very posh. Obviously mainly geared towards skiing in winter. Duvet blankets so no sleeping bags required. 

Evening meal consisted of goulash soup and brot, and sausage and salad or schnitzel and rice, followed by apfelstrudel and cream. An excellent meal washed down by apfelsaft. Colin fancied the waitress and kept giving her sweet smiles but he didn't get anywhere.

Ulmer Hutte (2279 metres)

Today's route - 8 hard km, with 500 metres ascent in deep snow

Discussions with the warden revealed that the R601 path was officially closed and that we should not have come down on today's route. He was not prepared to show us the next section - most sensible we thought in view of the conditions. He said there was avalanche danger and that we should keep below 2000 metres. 

We decided on a fairly low level route for the rest the British Loonies Expedition. 

Several beers, and then a few more. Ruaridh was in fairly dire straits due to lack of schiewasser, whilst any lack of coherence here is a side effect of the beer. Heat exhaustion and sunburn rules ok. Off to bed. PS Martin has now learnt to pour beer. Over to you McP....

Monday 5 April 2021

More Adventures in Lockdown

Given there's not much of interest to write about at present, I've been casting back to old diary entries and photos in the main, whilst recording the onset of spring in my weekly reports on walks with Graeme.

This entry, mainly for Dot's benefit, fills in a few gaps regarding our lockdown activities and growing grandchildren.

On 14 March, Sue and I enjoyed a short walk around Lymm, passing St Peter's church in Outrington (above), before heading down to Spud Wood for a walk through mud beside the Bridgewater Canal on the opposite side to the towpath.

I didn't realise the recent floods had been serious enough to beach this vessel, seen before we strolled around Lymm Dam in view of the resident cormorants!

Meanwhile, Isabella was behaving perfectly.

Except when forced to eat mushy gruel...

Jacob and Jessica and Kate were busy taking happy selfies.

And I was keeping up a daily (not)parkrun, this one being number 272, during which I was overtaken by a young girl on a penny farthing bike.

Tea in the garden after (not)parkrun number 272

Jessica busied herself composing an excellent collage, which I was required to print out for her.

The blossom in De Quincey Park triggered a pause during another (not)parkrun.

Isabella soon learnt that gruel is preferable to starvation! Sweet potato went down well.

She slept soundly while Sue and I took her on three laps (10 km) around Fletcher Moss on 27 March.

Back in Timperley, it was 'out with the old'

and 'in with the new'.

On the same day, 29 March, a walk around West Sale was enlivened by clumps of Lesser Celandine, Daffodils, a hedgerow of Blackthorn, the distinctive call of Chiffchaffs, and a cooing Wood Pigeon.

At the same time, Phil was laying the last of our new carpets, delayed for months by Covid. What a relief, we were getting a bit fed up with the sight of the gripper rods that we exposed at the end of November to make life easier for the decorator.

On Saturday (April 3) we celebrated the new Lockdown 'rule of six' with a small gathering of parkrunners around a couple of separate picnic benches at Wythenshawe Park, encountering a few folk (some just in passing, and all well socially distanced) we'd not seen since they supported me on the 'virtual marathon' I ran in the park last October.

Then Sue and I took grandma Dot for a 3.5 km walk around Eccleshall. Cold but sunny.

Yesterday, 4 April, I managed a 30 mile bike ride in sunny weather to Moore and back.

The Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) near Altrincham


Above the 'forbidden to bikes' towpath near Moore

A long stretch of newly upgraded TPT, next to the Ship Canal in Stockton Heath;
this used to be a narrow, often muddy, section

Gleaming new foliage on the quiet stretch of disused railway near Thelwall

Later, Sue and I took advantage of the most recent Lockdown relaxation and enjoyed, under the 'rule of six', meeting up with Richard and Jenny, and Sue and Phil, in a garden. Hopefully in May we will be allowed to meet people indoors, but this was a very welcome 'garden' reunion.

Finally, today we had the pleasure of a garden/park visit from Kate and J & J. The swings in Walton Park came first, as Oscar the dog needed a walk, even if Jacob didn't think so.

Then the slide and other playthings at the more or less deserted Newton Park, where the blossom is in fine fettle just now, provided more entertainment.

And that just about brings us up to date.